Writing is a hard gig to make into a living, and freelance writing is the hardest path to follow in some ways. If you ever want a sense of how much people in general value writing as a skill, try your luck at freelancing; while there are plenty of well-paying gigs out there and plenty of people who do value the writer, there is a vast army of people who think writing is essentially worthless.
These folks generally believe they could do all the writing for their project themselves if only they had the time. Therefore they approach hiring someone to write it with an irritated, vengeful attitude from the get-go, and are a nightmare to work for. If you get sucked into their project, you will have regrets, so it’s best to avoid them from the very beginning.
Deciphering the Ads
So how can you avoid working for idiots who regard what you do as essentially worthless? You can look for the secret code they all use in their advertising. When they post an ad looking for writers, look for the following things:
- No mention whatsoever of compensation. If the advertisement doesn’t even acknowledge that you might need to be paid for your work, move on.
- A lengthy list of your responsibilities, which, in combination with the first bullet tells you exactly what they think of your position in life.
- The words copyscape or plagiarism, which are sure signs that the person hiring regards writing as a scam of some sort and not, you know, a valuable service. I’m not saying people haven’t been ripped off by writers serving up steaming piles of plagiarized material, but this tends to happen more often to you when you lowball your pay and don’t value writers to begin with.
- A stern, angry tone. If they’re already treating you like a Time Thief stealing from them before you’ve even answered the ad, move along.
The bottom line is that writing is content that has value, whether its entertaining fiction moving book-shaped units or web copy or blog posts drawing eyeballs. Not only should the writer always be paid, they should also always be paid fairly, and the first step is not even bothering with crappy jobs. Consistently, the best freelance gigs I’ve gotten via answering ads have had ad copy that was fun, that was up-front about payment, and that made me feel excited to join a team and not lucky to get a penny a word.